Withania somnifera – Radix (Solanaceae)
Common name: Winter cherry (E), Indian ginseng (E), Asgandh (H)
A strengthening yet calming adaptogenic tonic that nourishes the nerves, whilst also boosting our immune systems, slowing the ageing process and reducing stress.
An erect branching undershrub reaching heights of up to 150cm. It is clothed with minutely stellate tomentum, ovate leaves up to 10cm long, greenish or lurid yellow flowers in axillary fascicles and mature fruits in the form of orange globose berries enclosed in a persistent calyx. The fleshy roots are cylindrical when dry and gradually taper down with a brownish white surface and are pure white inside when broken.
How it Works
Ashwagandha is a calming adaptogenic tonic to the nervous and immune systems. It strengthens an exhausted nervous system by helping it relax whilst also energising the body and mind by nourishing the adrenal glands and the entire Hypothalamic Pituitary Gonadal axis (HPTA). It both spares (bringing more capacity) and strengthens (bringing more potency) the stress, immune and reproductive responses helping with poor memory, poor sleep, low energy, depleted muscle tissue, cellular derangement, abnormal immune behaviour and low fertility.
Ashwagandha is unusual in that it brings both energy and calm. It brings strength by helping you to rest more efficiently and helps you rest by making you stronger. It will enhance endocrine communication, strengthening the adrenal glands whilst also calming a hyperactive nervous system through moderation of cortisol, the thyroid and the reproductive organs. It is particularly useful in nervous exhaustion and has the ability to encourage the regeneration of damaged nerve cells. It also strengthens immunity, wards off degenerative diseases and enhances longevity. It protects the bone marrow and the blood as well as the thyroid and helps to balance levels of insulin and the primary sex and stress hormones.
Into the Heart of Ashwagandha
- Ashwagandha is a calming tonic adaptogen. Adaptogens improve overall well-being through optimising the functioning of all your organs. Adaptogens such as ashwagandha, increase energy, increase inner strength, improve libido, balance the stress response, improve blood sugar levels, optimise protein synthesis and reduce inflammatory cortisol levels. Tonic adpatogens like ashwagandha will calm the nerves and restore endocrine functioning.
- Potent immune adaptogen rebalancing low white blood cells and platelets.
- Ashwagandha will restore endocrine functioning, specifically nourishing the the thyroid, through assisting T4-T3 conversion, increasing dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), sparing cortisol and enhancing insulin activity.
- Primary nervous system restorative and nerve cell regenerator.
- The regenerative effect this herb has on nerve cells makes it ideal for treating chronic muscle pain, fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
- Specific for ‘hyper’ active conditions of the nervous system such as anxiety, stress-induced insomnia, nervous exhaustion and heart weakness.
- Restorative to all muscular tissues including the heart, lungs and reproductive systems.
- Rich in iron making it perfect for treating iron-deficient anaemia and associated fatigue.
- Human clinical trials show that Ashwagandha balances the primary markers of ageing: C-reactive protein (CRP) goes down, insulin down, Advanced Glycation End (AGE) products down, serum cortisol down, Lutenising Hormone (LH) and Testosterone up, Follicular Stimulating Hormone (FSH) and Prolactin down, Dehydroepiantrosterone (DHEA) 35% up; haemoglobin up, iron up, nail calcium up, sperm motility and volume up, Antioxidant; Lipid Peroxide levels down, Super Oxide Dismutase (SOD) and Catalase up in 30 days.
Nervous: Ashwagandha is considered a primary herb for supporting and nourishing all aspects of the nervous system. It is particularly useful in all conditions caused by ‘stress’ as it has a specific affinity for the majja dhatu and helps to regulate the movement of vyana vayu in the heart. Its tropism for the nervous system benefits Multiple sclerosis. It both relaxes frayed nerves and tonifies the central nervous system to enhance tolerance to stress. It is a nourishing nervine as opposed to a heavy sedative and is indicated inneurosis, insomnia, anxiety, ‘hyper’ symptoms and ADHD.
Muscle Tissue: Ashwagandha is indicated in muscle imbalances, as it both reduces inflammation and strengthens muscle tone. Therefore, it is effective for tissue debility, low body weight, emaciation, deficient haemoglobin, anaemia, post-convalescent weakness and athletic exertion. It is a specific rasayana for mamsa dhatu and it is an anabolic muscle builder. As it benefits all muscle tissue it is used as a heart tonic, uterine tonic, lung tonic as well as for increasing muscle weight and tone in convalescents, slow developing children and the elderly.
Immune: Ashwagandha can strengthen a weakened immune system and protect it from becoming depleted due to immunosuppressive drugs or lifestyle. It also improves white blood cell counts. Ashwagandha is therefore indicated in auto-immune conditions, neutropenia, rheumatoid and osteo arthritis, cancer, and chronic connective tissue disorders. Its painkilling and anti-inflammatory actions make ashwagandha a helpful addition to treating swollen or painful arthritic conditions.
It appears to have both immunosuppressive and immunotonic abilities and is therefore a ‘true’ adaptogen.
Respiratory: Ashwagandha is indicated in the respiratory system, particularly in asthma, coughs and allergic conditions influenced by low immunity and aggravated by high kapha and vata. Similarly, for conditions of the ENT (ear, nose and throat) that are also aggravated by vata and kapha, ashwagandha can be useful in trating hayfever and allergic rhinitis.
Reproductive: For the male reproductive system, Ashwagandha rejuvenates the shukra dhatu, helping to alleviate asthenospermia (increasing sperm motility), oligospermia (increasing sperm count), poor sexual performance and helping to reduce impotence. Its unique action or prabhava is to promote sexual potency and sperm production. External application of Ashwagandha oil is used for impotence. For the female reproductive system, ashwagandha is an excellent tonic to the uterine muscles. It is used in menstrual imbalances caused by a deficient condition with an aggravation of vata and uterine spasms including dysmenorrhoea, amenorrhoea and weakness.
Endocrine: Ashwagandha is indicated in the endocrine system with particular focus on the thyroid glands, proving very useful in hypothyroidism and regulating thyroid activity.